Marne Foster of the San Diego Unified School District board of trustees. Photo by Chris Stone

Updated at 3:55 p.m. Feb. 2, 2016

San Diego Unified School District trustee Marne Foster pleaded guilty Tuesday to receiving financial gifts over the legal limit — money used for her youngest son’s theater camp — and agreed to resign her position at the end of the week.

Foster admitted that a benefactor gave her son money toward a theater camp in 2014 and paid for his airline tickets.

By law, Foster could only accept a gift of $460 per year, said Deputy District Attorney Leon Schorr.

Foster, 47, was accused of abusing her powers with her alleged involvement in a staff shakeup at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts; being secretly behind a $250,000 claim against the district filed by her son’s father that accused the school of sabotaging the youngster’s college plans; and holding a fundraiser to cover her son’s college expenses.

Foster was ultimately charged with just one misdemeanor count.

“We took into consideration everything that we had, and took into consideration the standard that we have in order to prove a crime and what would be a proper resolution in getting the district back to functioning on its number one goal, which is educating students versus having to deal with the long, drawn-out criminal proceedings,” Schorr told reporters outside court.

Superior Court Judge Lisa Rodriguez placed Foster on three years probation, ordered her to pay $3,487 in restitution and perform 120 hours of volunteer work. Foster is also barred from running for office for the next four years. Her resignation is effective Feb. 7.

Foster was not at the court hearing, where she was represented by her attorney, Adam Gordon.

“Marne is with her family right now,” Gordon said. “She obviously wanted to take accountability for what she did. She wants to put this behind her and allow both the school district and the community to focus on the children.”

Foster issued a brief statement that read: “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve the students of San Diego and their families.”

School district General Counsel Andra Donovan said the remaining trustees will consider in the next few weeks how to fill the vacancy.

The seat is up for election this year. LaShae Collins, an aide to Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, is the only candidate known to have entered the race.

Foster also faces a lawsuit from Kim Abagat, head counselor at the School of Creative and Performing Arts.

Foster is accused of abusing her powers stemming from her alleged involvement in a staff shakeup at the school, secretly being behind a $250,000 claim against the district filed by her son’s father, and holding a fundraiser to cover her son’s college expenses.

The suit alleges that it became Foster’s “custom and practice” to use her position to interfere with the employment conditions of SDUSD employees, “for her own personal gain without any benefit to SDUSD.”

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.